My mum hates holidays, she also hates flying and she generally doesn’t really like being away from the house or the dogs.
However as you may imagine when holidays do occur in the Bishop family they are planned with expert precision. Apart from going overseas to see family we tended to do smaller holidays (nothing wrong with that) in fact there were a few years where my Mum genuinely wanted to stay at home and my Dad took us away. I know what you may be thinking but no my parents were never separated and have been married for 33 years but a holiday for my Mum was getting rid of the rest of the rest of us and staying at home with the dogs…best of both worlds, for her at least. Less so for my Dad of course who had to put up with my brother and me on a week off AND not even get to spend time with my mum at the same time.
Then there was an epiphany.
I don’t know what caused it.
But my Mum decided circa 1998 that we would go on our first proper package holiday. The randomness of this was that for our first package holiday, which was to Cyprus, we ended up in the same place, the same week, as our neighbours. As random as that was it was actually a great week a great time in the sunshine, some questionable dancing, a limbo competition and a lot of glass balancing.
However, its not just fun in the sun to be had on a Bishop holiday, oh no. There is this distinct idea that we ‘must do stuff’ everywhere we go. Whilst I understand this in those well known sightseeing locations, I never knew there was so much to see in Menorca and Cyprus etc.
The plan always is that you go to the cultural sights in the morning because it’s the coolest time of day and therefore far more pleasant to go (this was how Mum and Dad would sell it to us when we actually just wanted to be by the pool) and then we would get back to the hotel around lunchtime where you are then allowed a good couple of hours by the pool to enjoy the sunshine before getting ready for and then enjoying dinner. This routine is the general plan for all Bishop family holidays of the ‘package’ variety and I am mildly ashamed to say that this now is rather instilled in me and I have been known to do similar scheduling since…no idea where I get that from.
Now there is nothing wrong with this we have seen some amazing places for which I am truly thankful for even if the names of some of the more obscure sites I can’t now remember which is probably why at the time we made scrapbooks after every holiday. They always documented everything we did even to the point of collecting ticket stubs, leaflets, napkins etc of places we went. One thing that is quite noticeable from these scrapbooks or in fact the Bishop photos in general, are that they rarely include people.
Now I do love a selfie, I was ‘selfie-ing’ long before the word ‘selfie’ was even invented but we have never really been the kind of family to feel the need to take a lot of pictures of each other, although we probably take more now than we did back then. Sure there are a few of course but most are of things we see rather than just us with a variable backdrop. We see each other all the time after all but we don’t see some ancient Grecian temple nestled into a cliff or whatever, or a tree with a load of hankies tied in it (yes seriously this does exist).
True, pictures never quite capture the memory but they remind us of those things we have seen and the memories associated with them which is pretty special. although to be honest I don’t remember any particular memories with the hanky tree but hopefully you see my point!
For my Mum that’s recording every UNESCO World Heritage Site her and my Dad visit in a tick box style fashion (I am reliably informed they are up to 95 although my Mum has seen an additional 6), I can’t wait for them to visit the Titanic! Then of course it’s the obligatory ‘oh you haven’t seen our pictures of [insert placename]’. All I can say is digital photography has a lot to answer for!
Back in the 1990s and early 2000s when film camera still dominated you had to really want to take a picture because films were expensive and it cost a reasonable amount to get them developed. Now we are much more throwaway with those moments because we can take an endless amount of alternatives or different slightly arty views of the same thing eh Dad?
This is great of course it is but the sad thing is that you see some tourists now seeing those sights through their selfie sticks or the camera on their phone/ipad/video camera/actual camera or even a combination of the above rather than taking a step back and taking it in with their actual eyes which I think is such a shame. Some moments you will never get back so why waste it?! If you want to see life through a lens then you could save your money and just stay at home and watch the same thing on a truly realistic HD National Geographic (or similar) travel programme.
I think we can all get a little complacent sometimes as technology makes things so much easier and the world gets smaller. Sometimes it’s just about taking a step back and living in the moment rather than racing through life in a tick box style – unless you are on a quest do all 1052 (currently) UNESCO World Heritage sites in which case probably you can be given a little bit of an exception.
Holidays are about experience. Getting away from it. Relaxing (maybe), Adventuring (possibly), Burning (in my case, definitely). Doesn’t matter where you go you still make memories, good or bad. Thing is your mind will always remember the bad things and you don’t need or normally have pictures for those, the pictures are there to help remind you of those good memories; that place you visited, that meal you had, that funny moment, they may or may not include people depending on if they are integral to that memory.
Over the years there have been some pretty bad Bishop holiday moments…I don’t have pictures of these but they are things you don’t forget, the very much abridged version is below:
- Dad being told he was going to be made redundant when we were in the middle of our holiday in the US
- Mum sitting on the floor in floods of tears in Changhi airport having literally lost it (I mean properly lost it) because they ‘couldn’t find’ our booking. They magically ‘found’ our booking not long after that
- Me getting bitten to what felt like near death by mosquitoes in Australia to the point where walking was so painful even the pharmacist didn’t know what to suggest
- Brother nearly drowning in a hotel pool when he jumped in to the deep end but couldn’t actually swim
- Me getting burnt on too many holidays to name but the worst being my scalp and my shins (separate occasions). Don’t ever burn your shins, it is the most pain I have ever ever felt.
- Dad falling down stone steps in a gÎte in France in the middle of the night
- Mum being offered tranquilizers (actually in hindsight that was more funny than bad) because she was in such a state on a plane when we were so helpfully told there was a problem with the engine. We sat on that plane for 5 hours before taking off – which was fun.
- Brother leaving his camera hooked over the seat in front of him on a bus in Malaysia on the assumption that my Dad (who was sitting on the seat in front) would magically know it was there and remind him to take it with him
- Arriving late at night to a condo in Florida to find someone already in the one we had booked, it took us 3 attempts to get one that we could actually stay in
For those of you embarking on your summer holidays, I really am not jealous at all*, enjoy making lots of new memories (hopefully more good than bad), take a step back and take in that view, that moment, put your arm around someone special (or maybe someone close by if they look approachable 🙂 ??) or enjoy it for yourself and experience some of those things you may never get the chance to do or see again. You see so much when you just sit and take it in.
Take 1000s of pictures if you want just don’t do what I see the endless stream of tourists in London doing and see it just through your phones/camera/ipad/video camera!
*that is a lie